Brenna Gerhardt, executive director of Humanities North Dakota, Leander "Russ" McDonald, president of United Tribes Technical College, and Gary Adkisson, Bismarck Tribune publisher, are teaming up to recognize community members with a new GameChanger Award.

The Bismarck Tribune, in partnership with Humanities North Dakota and United Tribes Technical College, is rolling out a new honor next month that will replace the annual Tribune Awards, which are typically presented New Year's Day to citizens making a difference in their communities.

The GameChanger Award will mimic its predecessor in commending people who go above and beyond to do good works, promote change and show kindness.

“With the Tribune Awards, we'd write about people in the community who are doing cool things,” said Bismarck Tribune Publisher Gary Adkisson. “My thought process was these people are game changers. They are people who are doing something that's changing their world -- some in a small way, some in a big way.”

What better place to recognize these individuals and their efforts, Adkisson said, than at the GameChanger Ideas Festival, hosted annually by Humanities North Dakota. The event focuses on a critical issue facing democracy and seeks out innovative thinkers to present their ideas onstage.

The theme of the sixth annual festival, slated for Oct. 5 at Bismarck's Belle Mehus Auditorium, is “American Dream.” Featured speakers will include Nate Boyer, a veteran and former professional football player who will address the freedom of speech, and comedian Aparna Nancherla, who will speak to the freedom from fear.

The GameChanger Award will be presented at this event, much to the delight of Brenna Gerhardt, executive director of Humanities North Dakota.

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“This is really an opportunity for us to showcase the local game changers -- the people in our community that are just doing amazing work,” she said. “They're often unsung heroes … that are really making sustainable and wonderful changes that we really need to see.”

GameChanger Award recipients will be featured in the newspaper, receive a plaque and a $1,000 award, sponsored by UTTC.

“United Tribes is excited to be a part of this award, as we are looking to continue to build relationships in the community,” said Brent Kleinjan, college relations director for UTTC.

Another notable difference is nominations will be accepted year-round. A committee has already selected a winner for the inaugural award to be presented Oct. 5. Following the GameChanger Ideas Festival, more information will be made available on the nomination process.

The goal, Adkisson said, is to recognize game changers not only in the Bismarck-Mandan area but from across the state.

“There might be people from Fargo, Grand Forks, Williston that get nominated,” he said. “We're going to let all the nonprofits in the state know about it, and really try to make this a statewide effort.”

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